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{Recipe} Three Bean Chili with Dark Chocolate & Walnuts

{Recipe} Three Bean Chili with Dark Chocolate & Walnuts

The weather has been cold and clear here for the past week, resulting in frosty mornings and gorgeous (albeit early) sunsets. I have been having daydreams of snuggling up in front of a crackling fire and drinking hot buttered rum. Unfortunately, we don’t have a fire place, and I’ve never even tasted hot buttered rum (although if anyone wants to drop by with a cup for me, I would be totally ok with that).

This time of year always puts me in the mood for hearty stews and chilis, and the one I’m going to share with you today definitely fits the bill! The flavor is rich and deeply satisfying and the dark chocolate makes it just a bit decadent.

You can use canned beans for this recipe without sacrificing flavor or quality, but since you need 3-4 cans, you may want to just cook up a pot yourself and save a few bucks. Totally up to you. You can use whatever beans you have on hand for this recipe. I used a mixture of kidney, pinto, and black beans this time. Since Josh is on a very low sodium diet, I like to cook dried beans myself, and keep them in pre-portioned, 2 cup containers in the freezer. You can buy ‘no salt added’ beans, but there is only one grocery store in our town that sells them, and they are often over $2 for a 14 ounce can. So, I stock up on dried beans when they’re on sale, cook them in big batches in my slow cooker, and freeze them for later use.

Homemade Chili Powder

This recipe calls for a rather substantial amount of chili powder (3 tablespoons), so your choice of chili powder matters. For truly epic flavor, try making your own chili powder (trust me, you won’t ever go back) – but if you don’t have an entire afternoon to spend playing in the kitchen, Spice Islands makes an excellent store bought substitute.

Chocolate Walnut Chili

This recipe is adapted from Green Kitchen Stories, a blog jam-packed with delicious, healthy, vegetarian recipes, and incredibly beautiful food photography. Here is a link to the original recipe, and while you’re there, be sure to poke around the site a bit. The photos will suck you in, and the inspired recipes and friendly, narrative style will keep you coming back for more!

Three Bean Chili with Dark Chocolate & Walnuts

(servings = 6 to 8, takes about 1 1/2 hours to make)


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 5 – 6 cups cooked beans (kidney, pinto, black, etc.)
  • 2 – 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes (these are fantastic)
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven (this is my favorite) over medium high heat. Saute onions & pepper until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add remaining spices – chili powder, cumin, paprika, and oregano – and saute for another minute or two, being careful not to let them burn.
  2. Add tomatoes and beans. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove lid. Add walnuts, chocolate, and wine (if using). Stir to combine. Simmer, uncovered, for approximately 15 minutes. Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. [/recipe]

Recipe Notes:

Since my husband is on a low-sodium diet, I never add salt during cooking. If sodium is not a concern for you, this chili can be salted to taste before eating, or, you can add 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt along with the other spices when cooking. If you’re trying to reduce your sodium intake, and are looking for ingredients to make this recipe, I recommend the following:

Muir Glen, Fire Roasted, No Salt Added, Diced Tomatoes — You can find these here, on Amazon, for a little over $32 for a 12-pack of cans, which works out to $2.73 per can. This isn’t a great price – I buy these at my local food co-op for $1.99 a can. So, check locally before you order, but if you can find them anywhere else, it’s probably worth the extra money to Amazon them. They really are outstanding for store-bought canned tomatoes.

Eden Organic, No Salt Added, Black Beans —  If you don’t have dried beans on hand, or don’t want to take the time to cook them, these are very good canned beans.

Here is a link to my homemade chili powder recipe. Or, this is a good store-bought alternative: Spice Islands Chili Powder.

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